Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on Saturday concluded a quiet two-day visit to Beijing to discuss bilateral issues with the Chinese leadership amid indications by both countries of their intention to put last summer’s Doklam military stand-off behind them.
While there was no word from the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi, the Indian Embassy in Beijing announced, “The foreign secretary is visiting China to discuss the bilateral agenda, exchange plans and visits for 2018.”
Gokhale, a former Indian Ambassador to China who played a pivotal role in resolving the 73-day military face-off at Doklam, held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou and State Councillor Wang Yi , who is the Special Representative on the Chinese side for India-China boundary talks.
During the consultations, the two sides reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, including high level exchanges, and discussed the agenda for bilateral engagement in the coming months.
“Both sides agreed upon the need to expedite various dialogue mechanisms in order to promote multifaceted cooperation across diverse fields of India-China engagement. They noted the need to build on the convergences between India and China and address differences on the basis of mutual respect and sensitivity to each other’s concerns, interests and aspirations,” the embassy said in a release.
Both sides underlined that as two major countries, sound development of relations between India and China is a factor of stability in the world today. The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted the Chinese Foreign Minister as saying during the meeting with Gokhale that he hoped New Delhi would handle sensitive issues prudently and work with Beijing to promote the smooth development of Sino-Indian ties. The remarks are important in the context of sharp differences between India and China over a host of international issues, including the situation in the Maldives.
Gokhale said he was happy to visit Beijing at the very beginning of his term as Foreign Secretary. “India attaches great importance to its relations with China and is willing to work with China to implement the consensus of leaders, strengthen strategic communications, take care of each other’s core concerns and create a good atmosphere and conditions for the sustained and steady development of bilateral relations,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to travel to the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao in June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit. India became a full member of the SCO last year. A series of other important bilateral visits are also expected to take place between the two countries in the coming months.
Gokhale’s visit to Beijing came days after he undertook a similar trip to Bhutan to discuss security issues, including the situation at Doklam. Reports have suggested that China and Bhutan will discuss their border row next month.